Astonishing X-Men #23 One runs into something of a problem when reviewing this issue, because I honestly dont remember all that much of what happened last time, so, when one scene is a scene from last issue with thought-bubbles superimposed to cast the whole affair in a humourous light, its effectiveness is pretty muted. The story works fine on its own terms, but I really cant bring myself to care because of the scheduling. More interesting things are happening elsewhere in the X-universe. Ms. Marvel #21 Reed continues to weave a bunch of different plot threads in this issue, picking up from last issues cliffhanger return of Cru, the Brood-killer from the series first story arc (#1-3); it seems that Ms. Marvel absorbed some parts of him in their first encounter, explaining all the weird stuff happening with her over the last several issues. Cru takes them to Monster Island (dont worry, Carol, its only a peninsula), where the remnants of the Brood from that same arc are hiding, and breeding. Meanwhile, Machine Man gets a new, female body (his Monica sexbot) when his regular one is destroyed in Crus attack, Agent Sum turns out to have really incredible regenerative powers, Wonder Man turns up to help, and everyone is worrying about something the Daily Bugle has on Carol. Like I said, much happening (plus, a preview of Brian Reeds upcoming Captain Marvel miniseries, which I may be forced to buy, because I really like his work). Reed has a great handle on Ms. Marvel, whose inner monologue is consistently amusing ("How in the name of *@%& am I on Monster Island?"), and realistic; sometimes he goes a bit overboard on the insecurities, but otherwise she always seems like a real person. Aaron Lopresti returns after taking an issue off on art duties, and hes his usual excellent self. New Avengers: Illuminati #5 Secret Invasion is here, complete with a "The Infiltration" logo (presumably this will be SIs "Road to Civil War"), as the fairly enjoyable miniseries winds down, finally freeing up Jim Cheung to run late on some other project, hopefully Young Avengers-related. As advertised, the Illuminati convenes post-World War Hulk (confirming that it really wont affect any of their status quos at all, as if that wasnt already clear enough), Iron Man toting the corpse of Skrull-Elektra that he will receive whenever the seventh issue of Mighty Avengers ships. He suspects an invasion, and thinks theyre to blame, while the others are suspicious; Reed proposes they dissect the body and examine the situation further, but Black Bolt has a better idea: he asks politely that he take the body, since hes a Skrull, and theyd rather this go no further. Cue a massive brawl between the rest of the Illuminati and Black Skrolt, who, in the course of the fight, out-magicks Doctor Strange, out-telepaths Professor X, and generally proves nigh on invincible, until Namor impales him, because Bendis-written Namor is a badass (seriously, Bendis, Namor ongoing!). Two more Skrulls with the powers of Thor and the X-Men arrive for the fight as well, but Iron Man blows them up. Wondering how long Black Bolt was a Skrull, the team goes their separate ways, no longer trusting each other at all (eep). Quite an intense issue (the Black Bolt reveal is handled magnificently), with great art; although, if Bendis is really saying that Black Bolt has been a Skrull since 1973 (it isnt clear how long, although Iron Man suspects from that date), thats going to cause some problems. Although it does explain how he lost to the Hulk. Uncanny X-Men #492 After a somewhat ordinary first chapter (with irritating art from Marc Silvestri), things kick into higher gear here, with Brubaker picking up where he left off, and Billy Tan returning on art chores after a five-issue break. IGNs advance review of this issue described Tans art as "awful", which, having seen the finished product, I cant understand in the slightest; its not great, but it looks fine, and its the best Tan has been on this title yet. And its paired with Brubakers best X-related writing to date (possibly excepting #475, his debut issue); if he keeps this up, he may yet go down as a great X-writer. Anyway, Cyclops sends Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, and Angel to find some Acolytes, in hopes of them leading them to Mister Sinister, while he calls X-Factor to the Mansion; hes got a mission for Madrox (Layla tags along) at Forges, and a mission for Rictor: infiltrate the psychotic Purifiers. He also berates Professor X for being a jerk, leaving the old fellow strolling the halls and wondering what place is left for him with the institution he founded. Brubaker writes a good Cyclops and a good Wolverine. A promising beginning to the crossover-proper, I must say.